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Saturday, August 07, 2010

Premiers reveal an ideological divide on the census

The Premiers of Canada have not agreed to stand united against the rather moderate census reform that is being brought forth by the federal government. It is interesting to look at which Premiers are on what side of the issue.

On one hand we have the Premiers who are crying out about the injustice of the reform and making worried noises about the collapse of civilization:

New Brunswick’ Shawn Graham (Liberal)

PEI’s Robert Ghiz (Liberal)

Ontario’s Dalton McGuinty (Liberal)

Quebec’s Jean Charest (Liberal)

Manitoba’s Greg Selinger (NDP)

On the face of it, this looks like a pretty partisan list. But in Canada there is little or no connection between parties on the provincial level and federal level. None of these people care what federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff will think about their position. So you should ignore the partisan labels and look at what these people have in common.

They are the Premiers that put the most faith in the ability of the government to run the economy.

Now let’s look at the Premiers that say that the issue is not important:

Alberta’s Ed Stelmach (PC)

BC’s Gordon Campbell (Liberal)

Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall (Saskatchewan Party)

These are the premiers that have shown the most faith in the free market. Yes none of their track records are perfect, but compared to the last group of politicians these three are stalwarts of the free market.

The ideological division is clear. Those that believe in big government are for the census, those that believe in at least somewhat freer markets do not think that it is an important issue.

This underlines the fact that you only really care about the census if you think that government has the ability to run society. And the truth is that government can’t run society, so why should we care about the census?

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on August 7, 2010 in Canadian Provincial Politics, Census | Permalink


There is not a single politician in Canada that believes less government is the answer to today’s problems. All of them believe that government has and is the answer. Some to a greater and some to a lesser degree but rest assured, their collective faith in the free market is not what forms the foundation of their belief systems. They are unable to see government’s role in every so called free market failure. It is the politician’s interference based on making things “fairer” that inevitably causes market chaos. Today’s market instability and crash comes from the politician’s feeling that housing should be a right. From that flows the Community Reinvestment Act, Fannie & Freddie, NINJA loans, liar loans and the sh*t storm of 2008 and 2009. When this interference was combined with the utopian objective of electing a black president and all of the games played by the media and the politicians to elect an entirely unqualified guy who satisfied the color criteria, we are left with the fable that capitalism and the free market failed. To this I say bull. It was statists and their interference that skewed market fundamentals and led to the crash. What is truly weird and disheartening is that the same people who got us into this mess are telling us they have the solution to make it right. More government. The definition of insanity is repeating an action over and over and hoping for different results. I am not sure who is crazy, the politicians or the people who elect them.

Posted by: B | 2010-08-07 11:21:04 AM

You're right that the provincial Liberals are distinct organizations from the federal party, and while there is a great deal of overlap in membership, especially at the leadership level, they aren't necessarily tied to the federal party's line. But the NDP is a unitary integrated party. There is no distinction between the provincial and federal party, and when they differ it is a failure of party discipline and not business as usual.

Posted by: ebt | 2010-08-07 1:48:02 PM

The NDP is integrated by Canadian standards but by European standards it is still a very loose organization. For example there are not many mechanisms for Mr. Layton to enforce his will on the Premier of Manitoba. But the leader of the Spanish PSOE has many avenues of attack to put down a rebellious leader of a regional party.

In fact I would argue that the leaders of the Manitoba, BC, and Saskatchewan NDP parties (perhaps Nova Scotia too now) are more powerful than the national leader because they have a proven ability to form a government.

Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre | 2010-08-07 3:34:57 PM

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